What do the Arab Spring, religious Crusades, and Europe's revolutions of 1848 have in common? All were fueled by a surplus of hapless young men, according to Karin Kneissl, an Austrian academic, author, and political analyst. In her new German-language book, Testosteron macht Politik (rough translation: Testosterone Makes Politics), Kneissl lays out her case for the primary male sex hormone as a driver of world affairs.
She spoke with TIME about the book. An abbreviated version of the conversation follows:
TIME: So far, your book is out only in German, so I suspect most of our readers won't have heard of it before. How would you explain it to them? Kneissl: I started to work on the idea last year while watching the first [images] of revolutionaries in Egypt.
I thought that maybe one of the factors triggering that wave of violence, disobedience, or riot was a biological one. My hypothesis is the following: a young man who cannot channel his energy or his testosterone can disregard risk. All humans have testosterone, but of course, men have a higher level of it.
I also talked with historians of, for example, the [European] revolutions of 1848, and of the Crusade times. In these chapters of riot and rebellion, we always have the problem of angry young men that you cant channel otherwise. I've been a teacher in some Arab universities, and I remember lots of young men complaining in the last 10, 15 years that they simply can't afford to marry.
For those men, not getting married means no access to a girlfriend, a woman, because of rigid social morals, and you have a number who remain bachelors against their will. Because of social and economic reasons, they can't find work. They have no opportunity to channel that energy they have, and one outlet can be a social riot.
So I try to make my argument with references to the Arab world. I don't reduce my case to those events, but I was able to interview a large group of people involved.
The last time such a big revolution happened was decades ago; here, I could ask people, How did you react? Would you accept this kind of interpretation?
Tell me about the role of the hormone testosterone itself. Testosterone is often connected with dominance and aggression, but testosterone also has a lot of positive aspects, such as [imbuing] a sense of responsibility, and being a protector. When I interviewed young men in Egypt last year about their roles in their revolution, they said, We could be somebody, not just hanging around in front of the computer and not having anything to do.
For a revolution, you always need people who are ready to go to the very end, who are prepared to stand up when the tanks arrive, when violence breaks out. The young women I interviewed told me, Yes, we were there for the first five or six days.
We had a role in the demonstrations. But the moment the tanks arrived, the women in their early 20s [mostly] ran away, while hundreds of thousands of young men stayed. This attitude, disregarding the risk and saying, we are ready to sacrifice our lives they are willing to go to the very end.
I also spoke with endocrinologists, experts on the hormone. We've had lots of studies about testosterone. On Wall Street, for instance, in the 1990s, [a study showed that] people who took higher risks had above-average testosterone levels. And we see it with prison populations [a link between testosterone and] physical crime.
In the U.S. there's been a lot of news lately about a mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado, and one of the things that come out of that is that, apparently, inside the movie theater, a number of the young men threw themselves in front of their girlfriends to protect their partners. Do you think this ties into your thesis as well?
Yes, of course. As I said, we usually associate testosterone with aggression and dominance in bully behavior. But it also has this other aspect that you just described: protecting. Think of men in fire departments or volunteering in relief agencies.
Your Ph.D. is in international law. Did it feel like a departure to write a book that’s mostly about hormones?
Well, endocrinology has always been an interest for me. I’ve never regretted studying law, but I could have imagined myself studying medicine as well.
I originally planned to work on this book with an endocrinologist, who in the end backed out. So I had to get into the topic myself. I read textbooks, and I interviewed a lot of [doctors]. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I really wanted to raise a different viewpoint. I have been intrigued by colleagues from international relations who have a tendency, I think, to overinterpret the rational aspect of international relations.
I worked in the cabinet of a minister for two years and, having come from academia, I was often amazed by the importance of visceral behavior — how people interact on, let’s say, a purely chemical level. Is there good chemistry between two people? When it comes to international relations, the biological — or when we talk about hormones, the biochemical — has so far been a little bit underestimated.
Do you have any plans or hopes for an English translation of the book?
I hope so!
And how would you most likely translate the title of the book into English?
The German title is excellent because it’s really a play on words. “Testosteron macht Politik” is “Testosterone Makes Politics.” But the word macht also means “power,” so it’s “Testosterone Power Politics.”
In English? Well, an ad hoc proposal would be, “Testosterone Brokers Politics.”
Contact Us Now
- Testosterone levels seen prior to birth in fetus' fingers, jawline - September 16th, 2019
- New Study Finds That Testosterone Does Not Increase Cardiovascular Risk - September 2nd, 2019
- Baby Boomers find “The Fountain of Youth” in Testosterone - September 2nd, 2019
- Dr. Richard Bebb - Testosterone, Diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome - Video - August 21st, 2019
- Declining Testosterone Levels in Men Not Part of Normal Aging - August 12th, 2019
- Low testosterone levels may affect man's sex drive and affect his intimate relationships - August 11th, 2019
- TEFINA: Nasal Spray That Can Increase Female Orgasms - Video - August 10th, 2019
- Quick Weight Loss Tips and Diet Recommendations for HRT - August 10th, 2019
- Testosterone and Alcohol: Your Health and the Holiday Season - August 9th, 2019
- Testosterone builds muscle but has risks - August 4th, 2019
- Testosterone not always to blame - Sat, 04 Aug 2012 PST - August 4th, 2019
- Behavior and Lifestyle Linked to the Effect of Declining Testosterone, Not Necessarily Natural Aging - July 31st, 2019
- BUSTED: Myths About Testosterone And Its Link To Sexual Desire In Men And Women - July 28th, 2019
- Testosterone shown to help sexually frustrated women 0 - July 20th, 2019
- Green tea could mask testosterone doping - July 14th, 2019
- Some experts say testosterone decline is a normal part of aging in men - July 14th, 2019
- The Secret to Guys’ Sex Appeal: Low Stress, High Testosterone, Strong Immunity - July 7th, 2019
- Low on testosterone? No problem - July 7th, 2019
- Is testosterone the new drug of choice on Wall Street? How traders are using male hormone booster shots to maintain a ... - July 4th, 2019
- The Effects of Parenthood Upon Testosterone Levels - April 22nd, 2019
- Testicular Cancer Survivors are at Risk for Low Testosterone - April 21st, 2019
- Amygdala and it's Relationship to Testosterone and Fear - April 19th, 2019
- Testosterone Does Not Cause Atherosclerosis (Hardening of the Arteries) in Older Men - April 19th, 2019
- Increased Testosterone DOES NOT Cause Prostate Cancer to Spread - April 19th, 2019
- Testosterone Cypionate and Testosterone Enanthate: The Real Facts - April 19th, 2019
- A Surprising Side Effect of Methadone Treatment: Suppressed Testosterone - April 19th, 2019
- Low T - My life was falling apart because I had low testosterone - April 16th, 2019
- Testosterone Replacement Beneficial for Modern Men? - April 2nd, 2019
- What Is Testosterone AndroGel - April 2nd, 2019
- How long does it take for Testosterone replacement treatments and therapy to work? - April 2nd, 2019
- The Testosterone Industry Globally is Booming - April 1st, 2019
- Five Benefits of Testosterone That You Need to Know - March 31st, 2019
- Testosterone Nasal Gel: A New Form of Testosterone Replacement Therapy - March 17th, 2019
- Testosterone: Should You Take it to Regain Your Libido and Youthful Energy? - March 17th, 2019
- Manhood Washed Away: You Could Unknowingly be Annihilating Your Testosterone - March 17th, 2019
- New Research Proves Testosterone Replacement Therapy is Safe for the Heart - March 17th, 2019
- Skinny Bartender with Low Testosterone Becomes a Ripped Bodybuilder - March 16th, 2019
- Five Facts About Testosterone (That Maybe You Didn't Know) - March 16th, 2019
- Testosterone's Surprising Link to Men's 'Love Hormone' Oxytocin - March 16th, 2019
- More Sex: A Better Way to Boost Your Testosterone Levels - March 15th, 2019
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy Boosts Aerobic Capacity - March 15th, 2019
- Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) Reduces the Risk of Serious Adverse Health Consequences! - March 15th, 2019
- Eleven Foods that Can Drain Your Libido - September 6th, 2018
- Some Animal Research Suggests that High Testosterone May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk - September 6th, 2018
- The Truth Behind Common Male Sex Myths - August 27th, 2018
- Physiology of Testosterone - August 26th, 2018
- Testosterone Injections for Low-T and Andropause - August 26th, 2018
- Testosterone Therapy Allows Man to Have the Body That He Was Meant to Have - August 26th, 2018
- Could Civilization Have Been Formed as a Result of Declining Testosterone Levels in Males? - August 26th, 2018
- Testosterone and Aggression: How T-Levels Impact Human Response to External, Social Threats - August 21st, 2018
- Testosterone Deficiency Strongly Linked to Heart Attack Risk in New Study - August 19th, 2018
- Testosterone and Geriatric Frailty - August 18th, 2018
- Seven Types of Drugs That Can Inhibit Sex Drive and Libido - August 18th, 2018
- Low-T and Your Health - August 17th, 2018
- How to Build Muscle Quickly by Boosting Testosterone Levels - August 9th, 2018
- Andropause: Age-Associated Testosterone Decline - August 5th, 2018
- High-Dose Testosterone Injections May Be a Viable Palliative Late-Stage Prostate Cancer Treatment - August 5th, 2018
- Fortesta Brand Testosterone Therapy - August 3rd, 2018
- Testosterone Therapy and Androgen Deficiency Guide - August 2nd, 2018
- Testosterone Creams for Low Testosterone Treatment and Andropause - August 1st, 2018
- Testosterone, Anxiety, and Depression - July 9th, 2018
- Oral Testosterone Pill Could Make Lipocine's Share Price SKYROCKET - March 18th, 2017
- What is Testosterone? What does Testosterone do? Find on - August 9th, 2016
- The Truth About Testosterone | The Dr. Oz Show - June 9th, 2016
- How Men Work | HowStuffWorks - May 28th, 2016
- 6 Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels Naturally - wikiHow - May 4th, 2016
- Testosterone: Common Questions | Testosterone Test: Total ... - May 4th, 2016
- Adrenalast Testosterone Booster | Boost Muscle Sexual ... - April 6th, 2016
- How to Lower Testosterone in Women | eHow - February 8th, 2016
- Testosterone Booster Reviews - Consumers Guides - February 8th, 2016
- A Harvard expert shares his thoughts on testosterone ... - February 8th, 2016
- Does Andro 400 Work; does it increase testosterone? - February 8th, 2016
- All About Testosterone! - Bodybuilding.com - February 8th, 2016
- 5 Natural Testosterone Boosters - Healthline - November 2nd, 2015
- Testosterone - Low-T and Androgen Replacement Therapy - November 2nd, 2015
- Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels ... - October 17th, 2015
- Testosterone nasal gel works best at three doses a day, study finds - October 4th, 2015
- Testosterone: The Test | Testosterone Test: Total ... - October 1st, 2015
- Testosterone: A Major Breakthrough for Menopausal Women - October 1st, 2015
- Testosterone (film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - October 1st, 2015
Word Count: 968